Centennial Story 43: Sarah Carter (MS, 1998) and Andrew Fayram (MS, 1996)

Sarah and Andrew first met in Loveday Conquest’s QSCI 482 class. Statistics isn’t necessarily known for romance, so it’s not surprising that it wasn’t until the Fisheries Interdiscipinary Network of Students (FINS) transition meeting a couple of months later (Andrew was headed out, Sarah had just signed up) that they realized they liked each other. From that point on, Andy looked forward to class even more than usual (it was an excellent class) and thinks that his continued interest in statistics is a result.

Sarah studied the impacts of sea otters on sea urchins and kelp with Glenn VanBlaricom, which involved a whole lot of time underwater in the San Juan Islands. Andy spent lots of nights on a boat on Lake Washington working on the impact of largemouth and smallmouth bass on salmonids in the lake with Tom Sibley. While Andy’s MS was finished by 1996, Sarah’s took another couple of years (underwater field work is anything but fast). That timeline meant that Andy’s original idea to propose at Devil’s Tower in the middle of a Christmastime cross country trip to a new home in Wisconsin was thwarted. Instead he stayed in Seattle to work on juvenile salmon at NMFS with Phil Roni (MS, 1992; PhD, 2000), and eventually proposed the next year at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Since Andy had stayed in Seattle a couple of years waiting for Sarah to finish, Sarah thought it was only fair that she move to Madison (Andy’s hometown) for a couple of years in return. They both got jobs working for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – Andy as a Quantitative Fisheries Policy Analyst and Sarah as a Wildlife Damage Biologist followed by various other positions (think prairies, butterflies, and limnology – and yes, those all have very little to do with sea otters).

The family celebrating Sarah's dissertation completion at the University of Wisconsin - Madison in November 2014
The family celebrating Sarah’s dissertation completion at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in November 2014

Fast forward a couple of years, and they decided that it was possible to both have a child and start a PhD at the same time. Questionable decision clearly, but Andy earned his PhD in Biological Sciences (Fisheries) with a minor in Statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with Michael Hansen a few years later. After another few years, Isaac (now 15) was joined by two little sisters (Nessa and Hazel, now 13 and 8). Sarah must have been a bit delirious, as she interviewed for a PhD position when Hazel was just 2 months old. But, as crazy things sometimes do, it turned out to be wonderful. There’s nothing like ten years in the workforce working with hunters and farmers who have very strong opinions about deer (but not, as you might guess, the same opinions) to remind you just how fun graduate school is. Four years later Sarah had a PhD in Forestry (focus on conservation planning, with Volker Radeloff and Anna Pidgeon) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Andy and the kids hiking in Redstone, Colorado
Andy and the kids hiking in Redstone, Colorado

A subsequent post doc offer in Fort Collins was too good to pass up, and Sarah is now a landscape ecologist with the US Geological Survey at the Fort Collins Science Center in Colorado’s front range. She currently juggles her time between thinking about how to balance sage-grouse conservation, oil and gas development, and a myriad of other uses across the West for the Bureau of Land Management, and trying to sneak in time outdoors hiking, and very occasionally camping, with Andy and the kids in the many really cool natural areas in Colorado. Andy taught for several semesters at Colorado State University, among other very fun things such as coaching soccer, homeschooling the kids for 6 months to help soften the cross country move, and substitute teaching K-8. He currently does a lot of neat science related to water quality in the west as the monitoring program manager for a local non-profit (Big Thompson Watershed Forum), and somehow still finds time to coach soccer, teach limnology online at Green Mountain College, and cook some amazing fish for dinner!

It has been a crazy ride since they met at the School of Fisheries (now SAFS) – you really never know where the twists and turns of life are going to take you. SAFS, and our fantastic advisors, gave us the kind of science foundation that allowed us to be flexible in both location and topic in our subsequent adventures. We’re grateful for the fun times we had at SAFS and the amazing education we received there, including, of course, the stats course that started it all!

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